Auburn clerk on life support after robbers leave him to die
AUBURN, Wash. -- Auburn police say they now know who robbed a Shell gas station after a clerk suffered a medical issue and collapsed during a confrontation with two teens.
The clerk, identified by co-workers and family members as Zarif Kelada, is now on life support at a local hospital, co-workers said.
Kelada's wife is asking the community for prayers as her husband fights for his life, she told KOMO News through the help of a translator on Tuesday afternoon.
Kelada's co-workers get emotional when they think about all of the well wishes that have poured in ever since surveillance video of Kelada's encounter with the teens was released to the public. Kelada tried to charge a man for a couple of pepperoni sticks that two teens were eating Saturday evening near the convenience store's counter, police said.
They got into an argument.
Then one of the teens handed Kelada a dollar, which caused him to get upset, police said.
Surveillance footage showed Kelada going around the counter to confront the teens.
He collapses a few feet away moments later after suffering a heart attack, co-workers said.
"It’s absolutely heartbreaking. And we’re just all kind of coping with it – hoping that our guy’s going to make it," said Angela Sharapova, the store's manager.
Instead of calling for help, one of the teens took the dollar back from the clerk then bolted with the other two people, police said.
The teens returned several times, police said.
They stole some cigarettes and $178 from the store's cash register, Sharapova told KOMO News.
"I don’t think that’s right, you know?" said a man who works at a food truck nearby.
At one point, the two teens seen in the store's surveillance video passed by his food truck, the man said.
As soon as he saw Kelada on the ground, he immediately tried to track down the station’s owners as several customers performed CPR and called 9-1-1, the man told KOMO News on Tuesday.
"If you see someone like that, you know, you try to do as much help as you can," the man said.
What angers him and Sharapova the most is the teen’s actions after Kelada collapsed, they said.
"This whole entire thing could have been a whole different story," Sharapova said.
Sharapova doesn’t know what the future holds Kelada. She described him as a friendly, dependable employee, husband, and father of 3.
With the community’s help, she believes Kelada has a fighting chance.
"Having people turn around and do what they can to help us deal with this and help us catch these people kind of is overwhelming," Sharapova said.
Co-workers have now set-up a GoFundMe page to help Kelada with his mounting medical bills.
As of Tuesday afternoon, police haven't been able to track down the teens seen in the surveillance video, a police department spokesman told KOMO News. It's unclear if they'll face any charges. Police have interviewed the man in the video and determined he was not associated with the teens.